Improve your life in 2014, step 1: Declutter your apartment

Whether you love or hate New Year’s resolutions, there’s no better time like the present to make a life change. Find out how with our guide to improving your life in 2014.

If your New Year’s resolution was to make some changes in the New Year, good news: We picked four common dilemmas and got expert advice on how you can permanently tick them off your to-do list. Today, cleaning expert Jolie Kerr shares her tips for making your living space more habitable.

RECOMMENDED: More New Year's resolutions

Photograph: Imogen Brown

Despite living in tiny quarters, New Yorkers accumulate a lot of junk. And while it’s easy to justify holding on to plastic bags or old magazines (you’ll totally need them someday, right?), Jolie Kerr—cleaning columnist for Jezebel and Deadspin, and author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag … and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha (Plume, out Feb 25)—notes that hoarding stuff won’t help you in the long run. “If an item isn’t being used, it’s not actually useful,” she says. “In fact, it’s detracting from your happiness by making your living situation unpleasant or stressful.”

Make it happen: Optimizing every inch of storage space isn’t as difficult as you might think, assuming you have the proper tools. Invest in a few flat, under-the-bed plastic boxes and multipronged door or wall hooks; find both at organizational mecca the Container Store (various locations; You can also upgrade your college-era Ikea bookcases with better-quality pieces from A&G Merch (111 North 6th St at Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-1779, Once you’ve stored your essential items, tackle the rest of the clutter by pretending you’re styling a room for a photo shoot. “I ask myself what things I’d remove to make it look picture-perfect, and then start taking those things out,” Kerr says. “I can always decide to put them back if I really can’t part with them, but more often than not I’m so pleased with the way my newly ‘staged’ room looks, I’m happy to put the stuff out to pasture permanently.”

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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